9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Now Accepting Zadroga Act Claims

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is now open to rescue workers and others sickened by toxic dust at Ground Zero following the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. The fund reopened for registration on October 3, and could begin accepting claims for compensation as early as the end of November.

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was reopened as a result of the December 2010 passage of the <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Zadroga-Act-WTC-World-Trade-Center-Claims-Lawyer-Attorney-Lawsuit">Zadroga Act, which among other things, provides funding for health care for sickened Ground Zero responders. The fund will remain open for five years to provide payment for job and economic losses for first responders, those trapped in the buildings, and local residents who suffered illness or injures related to the toxic dust.

Those eligible for compensation under the Zadroga Act include Emergency Medical Service workers, construction workers, cleanup workers, utility workers, volunteers and original survivors who were present in the “debris removal area” between September 11, 2011 and May 30, 2002. According to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund website, the “NYC Exposure Zone” consists of:

• The area in Manhattan south of the line that runs along Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River; AND

• Any area related to, or along, routes of debris removal, such as barges and Fresh Kills

For those with covered illnesses, Special Master Sheila Birnbaum has set up a phased-in 3 step process for applying for compensation: 1) As of October 3, attorneys or claimants without representation could register immediately for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund; 2) The Eligibility portion of the claim forms became available online at the end of October 2011 ( paper form is also available for those without internet access); and 3) Sometime around the end of November 2011, the Compensation portion of the form will be available.

According to the website, claimants can, if they wish, complete the Compensation Form while awaiting a decision on the Eligibility Form – but Claimants may also wait for the Eligibility decision and complete the Compensation Form at a later date. As long as the Eligibility Form is timely submitted, the Claimant may file the Compensation Form at any time during the program. Claimants who currently suffer from a covered condition have until Oct. 3, 2013 to file a claim, and others will have two years from the date on which they know or should have known of the condition for which they seek compensation until the Fund stops accepting claims in 2016.

The list of diseases covered by the Zadroga Act includes asthma, interstitial lung disease and mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder. One group, however, is still being excluded from the compensation fund — those who have developed cancer since the Ground Zero attack. As we reported previously, the decision was made to exclude cancer victims for now, after a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) review of scientific evidence purportedly found “very little” evidence of a link between cancer and the toxic dust cloud that enveloped and then blanketed much of lower Manhattan in the wake of the attacks. The decision will stand until at least 2012, when NIOSH will conduct its next review.

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